HOWELL, N.J. — It's one of the largest animal welfare organizations in the tri-state, and in the last two months, two different, large scale rescues have shown why St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center here has become so prominent.
In April, it made America's largest response to a major rescue and airlift of dogs from South Korea. The dogs had been held captive at a farm that breeds them to be food in traditional Korean dishes. The Humane Society rescued the animals, and St. Hubert's took the lion's share of them in.
Then, last Friday, the animal welfare nonprofit was called in by Howell Township law enforcement to help out in what had been called in as a case of 80 dogs in one house.
Becky Burton, St. Hubert's vice president of animal care, was one of dozens of workers and volunteers from the shelter who responded to the scene.
"She called and said, 'We have more than 80 dogs,'" said St. Hubert's CEO Heather Cammisa at a news conference on Friday morning. "Then, she called again and again," Cammisa said, "and it was 140 dogs, 160 dogs, two hundred."
When all of the dogs were accounted for, the tally was at 280.
About half of those dogs were rushed to St. Hubert's sprawling shelter and treatment center here for shots, cleaning and other assistance. Many of the dogs had internal parasites and fleas.
Partnering shelters took in about 80 of the dogs that had come to St. Hubert's. The remaining 80 or so need further acclimation and basic medical attention before they're ready for adoption seven weeks from now.
Meanwhile, though, it's helpful that almost all of the nearly 300 dogs rescued in Howell were in at least decent health, and that they are small in size and used to being around a lot of other dogs.
"Living in that environment," said Dara Ruble, St. Hubert's shelter manager, "they bond much faster" with other dogs.
Ruble had the number 139 written in magic marker on the back of her hand. "They all have I.D. numbers," she told PIX11 News, "so we know who they are."
In fact, so many dogs came in at once from the home of alleged dog hoarders Joseph and Charlene Hendricks, that there was little time to name them.
That led St. Hubert's CEO to come up with an idea to help raise funds for the rescued animals' care. "For a $50 donation or up," Cammisa said. "You can help us name these babies."
The need to raise funds in the wake of the South Korean and Howell, New Jersey rescues is significant. The Howell rescue operation alone cost $30,000, according to Burton, the animal care VP.
Cammisa said that an effective way for anyone to help them restore that expenditure is to donate whatever is possible.
"Each vaccination is $2," she told PIX11 News. "So if someone has just $5 to give," she said, "every little bit helps."
Most of those dogs have been sent to shelters, including the 160 at St. Hubert's. Anybody interested in adopting or donating can do so at St. Hubert's website.